- by Riya Ipe
What is the most challenging situation you’ve faced at work and how did you handle it? Tell me about a mistake that you made? What did you do? Describe a situation where you had to work on a team with someone you did not get along with. What happened? Interviewers ask these kinds of open-ended questions during a behavioral interview, an increasingly popular interview technique.
What is a behavioral interview?
Behavioral interviews are designed to evaluate the candidate’s personality traits, skills, and abilities based on the response to various work situations. The rationale behind this strategy is that past behavior is a reflection of future performance and success.
Behavioral questions give employers an insight into the candidate’s approach to real-life work situations and the potential to handle similar situations. The ideal answers to these questions are brief anecdotes of how skills and strengths were used to handle specific situations and challenges with emphasis on the result of the behavior or action.
Tips to prepare for a behavioral interview
Do your homework — List down your professional accomplishments and key attributes. Study the job description and craft a story for the skills and competencies required for the role. Draw examples from your experience that highlight these skills and attributes.
Be positive — When asked questions about failures or challenges, it is important to focus on the positives in the situation. Talk about how you handled the situation, the learnings, and the results achieved.
Keep it brief — Keep the answers concise and to the point. Make sure your answers communicate what you have to offer. It should be short and crisp, yet compelling. Keep the answers under two minutes.
Use the STAR method — Use this strategy to put your story together. Focus on the situation or challenge, your role in handling the situation, the action taken, and the outcome. Be specific and quantify as much as possible.
Answering behavioral questions is a challenge since a lot of information needs to fit into a short and crisp response. A powerful technique for giving structured and focused answers to such questions is the STAR technique. This format involves describing a specific Situation, the Tasks assigned, the Action taken and the results of the action.
A situation is a challenge or project that provides the background of the story, a context to the answer. Choose the most appropriate example, one that demonstrates experience and is relevant to the role.
Task includes the responsibilities and assignments in that situation to achieve the ultimate goal. Explain the tasks briefly but clearly.
Action is what the interviewers are most interested in — the steps taken to resolve the situation or complete the project. This is an opportunity to highlight the key skills and best traits.
Results demonstrate the outcome of the action — the accomplishments. Explain the result using metrics and highlight the contribution to the success of the company.
There are no right and wrong answers in behavioral interviews. Always be open and honest. Practice your answers till you get comfortable and confident. Use this opportunity to prove with your examples and insights that you are the perfect fit.
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